‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to help. This week, the health column is answered by Dr Gary Mackenzie.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer on 28 November 2012, to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper.
“Dear Gatwick Park, My daughter, 26 years old, has this gastric problem for a long time. She feels bloated, her abdomen becomes painful the day her period starts, what I think is happening is that the gas does not seem to get released. We got a scan done 2 months ago as advised by a gynaecologist and everything is fine. Please help”.
Bloating and abdominal cramps are common and usually relate to spasms of the bowel. Your daughter is doing sensible things excluding other problems particularly gynaecological. Symptoms that suggest further tests should be considered include weight loss, change in bowel habit, bleeding or vomiting.
Most people manage to identify, albeit with some effort, some dietary triggers (such as tomatoes, garlic, cucumber) but these will not always cause symptoms each time they are eaten. Stress and anxiety often worsen symptoms as do hormone changes around periods.
Avoiding these triggers is helpful to reduce frequency and severity of symptoms. Many patients also find probiotics very useful (live yoghurts, probiotic capsules or sachets from health food shops). Peppermint (Colpermin capsules, peppermint tea or even mint sweets!) is the best natural remedy for bloating. Anti-cramp tablets (Colofac, Spasmonal and Alverine) exist but have mixed results and if taken daily the effectiveness often wears off.